Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Category: Blood

  • Tales of a sickler

    Phebe Salami Gwagwalada, Abuja, Nigeria   Sickle cell anemia. Photo by Ed Uthman on Flickr. CC BY 2.0. This piece is a work of fiction inspired by real-life stories of sickle cell disease. There are a thousand and one ways to tell a story. I guess this is just another one of those ways, my…

  • Book review: My Years with the British Red Cross

    Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover of My Years with The British Red Cross: A Chief Executive Reflects by Sir Nick Young. The Red Cross is known worldwide as a great humanitarian achievement. The charity was founded by Swiss businessman Henri Dunant, who was moved by the lack of care available to people who…

  • Blood and hate: The anti-Semitic origin of the fabled first transfusion

    Matthew Turner McChord, Washington, United States   Massacre of Jews woodcut. 1493. From L. Golding, The Jewish Problem, Penguin, 1938. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Introduction It is a story often repeated in medical textbooks: in 1492, Innocent VIII lay dying. His physician attempted the first recorded blood transfusion, transfusing the blood of three children into…

  • Dr. Marilyn Gaston’s lifesaving research

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Sickle cell anemia. Illustration by BruceBlaus on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. “[W]e can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often-neglected accomplishments of [B]lack Americans in every endeavor throughout our history.”1 – President Gerald Ford, 1976   Marilyn Gaston, MD (b. 1939), grew up in a poor family, with both parents…

  • Xenotransfusion: blood from animals to humans

      Jean Baptiste Denys. Via Wikimedia. The idea of infusing the blood of animals into humans was first proposed in 1658 by the French monk Dom Robert des Gabets soon after William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood. Experiments consisting of transfusing blood from one species to another followed. In 1665 in Oxford…

  • A brief history of menstruation

    Fangzhou Luo Portland, Oregon, United States   Philammon declaring his love for Hypatia. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. After a few failed attempts to redirect a flirtatious student to “higher pleasures” like music, the Ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Hypatia resorted to revealing where she was in her menstrual cycle to deter him. The philosopher who…

  • Syndrome de Lasthénie de Ferjol

    Krishna G. Badami Christchurch, New Zealand   Figure 1. Une Histoire sans nom by Jules Amedee Barbey d’Aurevilly. Source Several years ago we saw a young woman who had an iron deficiency anemia, caused not by blood loss from menstruation (a common cause of iron deficiency anemia in females), but by repeatedly drawing her own blood by venipuncture…

  • Blood is the life

    Saameer Pani Sydney, Australia   The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. Giovanni di Paolo. 1455/60. The Art Institute of Chicago. Vampire—the very word itself conjures up images of supernatural creatures who look not unlike you and me, prowl about at night, prey on unsuspecting souls, and sink their fangs into innumerable, hapless victims to…

  • Leukemia past and present: Lessons learned and future opportunities

    Nada Hussein Giza, Egypt   John Hughes Bennett. Painting by Henry Wright Kerr. Unknown date. Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation. “The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward,” said Winston Churchill in a meeting at The Royal College of Physicians in 1944. At that…

  • Heterozygous advantage: How one deadly disease prevents another

    Neal Krishna Boston, Massachusetts, United States   An allegory of malaria. Process print after M. Sand. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. Of all the genetic disorders to which man is known to be a victim, there is no other that presents an assemblage of problems and challenges quite comparable to sickle cell anemia. Because of…